Autumn – a time of reflection and preparation

Life sometimes feels as if a meandering stream has become a full flood river.  The Hopi Indians made a poem about this time and in it they say…

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore, and push off and into the river, keep our eyes open, and our head above the water.
See who is in there with you and Celebrate.

After a summer spent living in a yurt at Green and Away, coming back to a house seems a strange and counter intuitive thing to do.  The thick walls drown out the noise of traffic but also of birdsong and the rustle of leaves on the trees.  The air seems stale and as if there is less of it.  It is more difficult to feel connected to nature, to the earth, its cycles and seasons when one spends nearly 22 hours a day inside.  Every year something inside rebels, and screams and demands change, but change to what?  Living in a yurt through the winter would be uncomfortable and impractical in this climate, as least for the Cranstons (there are plenty of people who do manage it).  Questions come up such as should we move house to somewhere nearer the countryside and nature, should I change jobs, how does one keep the continuity of connection with nature and at the same time do everything that needs to be done.

My work with Green and Away is a classic example of the trade-offs it is necessary to make to achieve some balance in life.  In order for the summer season to take place, a whole raft of administration has to be kept in order, bookings made with organisations and volunteers kept in contact (mostly by our wonderful volcos).  I took on most of those roles as coordinator and it is the price I pay for spending my summers outdoors.  Sometimes I daydream of working outside as a gardener or doing general labouring jobs but I know that is not what I will do – so there is a state of uncomfortable tension through the winter and into the spring.

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is tearing its way across the east coast of USA in a massive show of climate change.  It is becoming ever more difficult for even the politicians to ignore the increasingly unstable climate and extreme weather conditions.  Human beings may already have set irreversible changes in motion with much worse to come, but we have to try harder to at least slow down the rate of global warming leading to climate change.  Many excellent people have been telling us how to do this for years but have mostly been ignored.  Now it is time for them to band together to make a bigger, more effective voice, one that will be listened too by everyone. Green and Away can play its part too, in promoting cooperation and bringing together the people who can make a difference in the world.  We have important work to do to get people back in touch with earth and reality.  That is the work for this winter and the spring, and ironically it will happen in a building!

We all need to connect with the beauty of nature as often as possible or we hide from the real world outside.  10 minutes appreciating trees is well spent.

It is worth reading Charles Secrett’s proposals at


About Helen Cranston

Helen's primary work takes her to Sinai, Egypt as Project Manager for the Makhad Trust. She continues to work as a Nutritonal Therapist on an occasional basis and has over 20 years experience.
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